2012 Ford Fusion Review and Prices

Last Updated: Aug 9, 2011

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2012 Ford Fusion Buying Advice

The 2012 Ford Fusion is the best car for you if you want a midsize sedan that packs a wealth of high-tech gadgetry and backs it up with solid overall performance, stately styling, and a comfortable interior.

The 2012 Ford Fusion is little-changed in preparation for a full redesign for model-year 2013. Minor updates to the 2012 Fusion include addition of smartphone connectivity via the Sync multimedia system and a new 17-inch wheel design. And automatic transmission is now standard on all but the entry-level S model. Available solely as a four-door sedan, the 2012 Ford Fusion offers four-cylinder and V-6 power, front- or all-wheel drive, and is available as the gas-electric Fusion Hybrid model rated at 41/36 mpg city/highway and 39 mpg combined city/highway.

Should you buy a 2012 Ford Fusion or wait for the 2013 Fusion? Buy a 2012 Fusion if you fancy V-6 power and like the current model’s exterior and interior styling and dimensions. The redesigned 2013 Fusion is likely to be smaller and lighter than the outgoing version, though it’ll probably have as much cabin space. It won’t, however, offer a V-6 engine, going instead with an all-four-cylinder lineup that should include one of Ford’s lively yet fuel-efficient turbocharged  EcoBoost fours. Buying a 2012 Fusion should net you big discounts as the redesigned 2013s approach, but you’ll be saddled with styling that has a short shelf life and resale value that’ll suffer for being the final year of a design generation.

2012 Ford Fusion Changes back to top

Styling: With a full redesign scheduled for model-year 2013, the 2012 Ford Fusion’s exterior and interior styling is unchanged except for a new 17-inch wheel design on the SE version. The square-cut 2012 Fusion is handsome in a staid way.

The 2012 Fusion’s cabin mirrors the exterior’s blocky flavor and, while not the most spacious in the class, is roomy enough for four adults. The seats are comfortable, materials quality solid, and ambience benefits from tasteful blue interior lighting. The dashboard’s focal point is the large center-mounted LCD display for the available navigation system and Ford’s Sync multimedia interface.

The 2012 Ford Fusion Hybrid features a novel interactive instrument cluster, animated by Ford’s EcoGuide, which acts as an illustrated coach to higher mileage. The EcoGuide displays pertinent information, such as hybrid-power routing and battery strength. It tells a driver when the car is operating in all-electric mode. It coaches more efficient driving by depicting a creeping vine that grows green leaves when the car is being driven using the least amount of gas, and loses them when the car is being driven in a less than fuel-efficient manner.

The 2012 Ford Fusion is available four ascending trim levels -- base S, volume SE, upscale SEL, and performance-oriented Sport – plus the Fusion Hybrid.

This midsize sedan shares its basic engineering and most components with the MKZ sedan from Ford’s upscale Lincoln division. The Lincoln MKZ carries exclusive styling cues, comes with additional standard equipment, and also is available with the same gas-electric hybrid powertrain.

Mechanical: The 2012 Ford Fusion offers a wide range of powertrain choices: a conventional four-cylinder, two V-6s, and the hybrid, plus three transmissions and a choice of front- or all-wheel drive.

The standard engine in the 2012 Ford Fusion S, SE and SEL models is an efficient 2.5-liter four-cylinder unchanged this year at 175 horsepower and 172 pound-feet of torque. It’s no fireball, but should suffice for most buyers. A six-speed manual transmission is standard on the S model, which comes only with the four-cylinder engine. A six-speed automatic transmission is optional on the S model and standard on all other 2012 Fusions. The automatic has a floor-shifter that includes a manual-shift function.

Optional on the 2012 Fusion SE and SEL and standard on the SEL with all-wheel-drive is a 3.0-liter V-6 with 240 horsepower and 223 pound-feet of torque (think of torque as the force that supplies acceleration, horsepower as the energy that sustains momentum). This V-6 is an improvement over the 2.5-liter four mostly in smoothness, with not really enough extra power to justify its higher purchase price or additional fuel consumption.

Exclusive to the performance-oriented 2012 Ford Fusion Sport is a 3.5-liter V-6 with 263 horsepower and 249-pound-feet of torque. The Fusion Sport is no BMW-beater but does reward enthusiastic drivers with a tauter suspension and 18-inch tires for incrementally better handling than other Fusions without suffering from a too-harsh ride in the bargain.

The 2012 Ford Fusion Hybrid has a 2.5-liter gasoline four-cylinder engine that works in tandem with an electric motor/generator and a self-charging battery pack. The system drives the front wheels via a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that eschews gears for a belt and pulley system to deliver seamless acceleration without traditional shifting. The Fusion Hybrid automatically runs on gas or electric power or in combination as necessary. Battery-charge permitting, the electric motor powers the car at around-town speeds and a feather-footed driver can take the Fusion Hybrid to 47 mph before the gas engine kicks in. This is not a plug-in hybrid; the Fusion Hybrid’s batteries are recharged from captured braking energy or surplus engine power.

The 2012 Ford Fusion is a front-wheel-drive car in its standard form. This configuration places the weight of the engine and transmission over the wheels that propel the car. This benefits traction in slippery or snowy conditions, especially compared to rear-drive models. All-wheel-drive is optional on the 2012 Ford Fusion SEL and Sport models for added grip in inclement conditions. AWD is relatively rare among moderately priced midsize cars: the 2012 Subaru Legacy and 2012 Suzuki Kizashi are the only others to offer it. Fusion’s AWD system typically sends 100 percent of the engine’s power to the front wheels, but automatically redistributes it front-to-rear as needed to restore traction if sensors detect wheel slippage.

Antilock four-wheel disc brakes are standard to help prevent skids in panic stops, while traction control helps minimize wheel slippage from a standing start on slick surfaces. Now required on all vehicles sold in the U.S., antiskid stability control, which Ford calls AdvanceTrak, helps prevent skidding during extreme or sudden handling maneuvers.

Features: The 2012 Ford Fusion continues to offer the most high-tech gizmos in the mid-priced, midsize segment. For 2012, Ford’s Sync multimedia control system, which comes standard on all but the 2012 Fusion’s base S model, adds an AppLink feature that affords added connectivity with smartphones. For example, motorists can play music from the web-based Pandora Internet radio service and connect to the Twitter website to have Sync read aloud “tweets” (short text messages) via a synthesized voice.

Sync also incorporates a hard-drive for 150 hours of music storage, a USB adapter for connecting iPods and other digital devices, a Bluetooth interface for streaming calls and music from a cell phone, and real-time traffic and weather information. Various Sync functions can be voice-activated or controlled from steering-wheel-mounted controls or a dashboard touch screen. This allows a driver to keep both hands on the wheel while, for example, entering a navigation destination, changing the radio station, or calling up a song stored onboard or on an iPod.

The 2012 Ford Fusion offers a long list of available options, though some depend on the trim level, and many come bundled only in extra-cost packages. Of note is Ford’s Blind Spot Information System with Cross Traffic Alert. This uses radar to detect and warn Fusion’s driver of other vehicles or obstructions in adjacent traffic lanes; it also alerts of vehicles and objects to the rear and sides when backing out of a garage or parking space.

Fusion’s audio system can be equipped with HD Radio that can receive higher-sound-quality signals where they’re available. It also allows a user to “tag” a song being broadcast and save the artist and title information to most iPods and iPhones for later purchase. Other available amenities include heated front seats, leather upholstery, rain-sensing automatic windshield wipers, a power moonroof, and a rearview camera for easier and safer backing.

The 2012 Fusion’s standard equipment includes basics such as air conditioning and power doors, locks and windows. Every 2012 Fusion comes with such segment exclusives as Ford’s Easy Fuel system, which does away with the gas-filler cap, and the automaker’s MyKey system, which lets the owner program a special key that limits the car’s top speed and audio volume and helps enforce seatbelt use, among other functions. Ford bills MyKey as a parental safeguard for teenage driving habits.

Buyers can dress up the 2012 Ford Fusion with appearance packages that include specific trim items and upholstery color combinations. Tri-coat paint and optional 17- and 18-inch aluminum wheels can also be specified to spruce up the exterior. Inside, an available ambient lighting system allows Fusion drivers to set the mood by choosing among blue, orange, red, green, and white accents.

2012 Ford Fusion Prices back to top

Prices for the 2012 Ford Fusion remain close to their model-year 2011 levels, and the car continues to deliver solid value, coming in $1,000-$2,000 below many competitors. And as the 2012 model year wears on, we’ll probably see the car carrying decent cash rebates to ensure dealers clear their stocks before the redesigned 2013 Fusion arrives in the fall of 2012.

Base-price range for the 2012 Ford Fusion is $20,645-$29,395. (Base prices in this review include the manufacturer’s destination fee; Ford’s fee for the 2012 Fusion is $795.)

With the 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, base price is $20,645 for the 2012 Fusion S model, $23,625 for the 2012 Fusion SE, and $26,095 for the 2012 Fusion SEL.

Adding the six-speed automatic transmission to the S costs $895. Adding the 3.0-liter V-6 adds $1,595 to the price of the SE and $1,610 to the cost of the front-drive SEL.

The 2012 Fusion SEL with AWD includes the 3.0 V-6 and starts at $29,555. The 2012 Fusion Sport model with its 263-horsepower V-6 is priced from $27,500 with front-wheel drive and $29,795 with AWD.

Base price for the 2012 Ford Fusion Hybrid is $29,395. Aside from the hybrid powertrain, CVT transmission, and animated instrumentation, the Hybrid’s level of standard equipment mirrors the SEL model.

Among key 2012 Fusion options, the navigation system costs $1,995, leather upholstery and heated front seats are priced at $995, and a reverse-sensing system for easier parking costs $295. A package that includes the blind-spot-warning systems, power moonroof, 12-speaker premium Sony audio array and other add-ons adds $1,945 to the SEL and $3,195 to the Sport.

2012 Ford Fusion Fuel Economy back to top

As before, Fusion fuel-economy ratings will appeal to mileage-minded buyers.

With the 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, the 2012 Fusion S with a six-speed manual transmission is rated 22/30 mpg city/highway and a 25 mpg combined city/highway. With the automatic transmission, the four-cylinder 2012 Fusion S, SE, and SEL are rated even higher, at 23/33 mpg city/highway and 26 mpg combined.

The SE and SEL with front-drive and the 3.0-liter V-6 are rated 18/26/20, while the SEL with the 3.0 V-6 and AWD is rated 17/25/19.

The 2012 Fusion Sport with its 263-horsepower V-6 rates 20/28 mpg city/highway and 23 mpg with front-drive and 17/25/19 with AWD.

The 2012 Ford Fusion Hybrid is among the most fuel-efficient midsize cars on the road, with a rating of 41/36 mpg city/highway and 39 mpg combined. Those fuel economy ratings are matched by its equivalent at Lincoln, the MKZ Hybrid.

As are most gas/electric models, the 2012 Ford Fusion Hybrid is slightly more fuel-efficient in city driving than on the highway. This is because it can run solely on electricity alone at slower speeds and because the system automatically shuts down the gas engine at idle.

2012 Ford Fusion Release Date back to top

The 2012 Ford Fusion will be on sale by early autumn 2011.

What's next for the 2012 Ford Fusion back to top

Big changes are in the works for the 2013 Ford Fusion. Along with the 2013 Lincoln MKZ it will abandon its current architecture and styling and switch to Ford’s global midsize platform, which forms the basis in overseas markets for the Ford Mondeo. America got a brief taste of the Mondeo in the 1990s as versions of it were sold here as the Ford Contour and Mercury Mystique. Those cars were cramped and overpriced and flopped. The current Mondeo is a much better car. Its dimensions are similar to those of the 2012 Fusion; while it’s a bit narrower it makes up for that with a taller roofline, which helps increase the car’s passenger volume nicely.

Those who prefer V-6-power will want to avail themselves of the 2012 Ford Fusion. The next-generation Ford Fusion will likely be powered exclusively by four-cylinder engines. This will help Ford meet the stricter federal corporate average fuel economy requirements that begin phasing in during 2012.

Expect the 2013 Fusion engine roster to include a 2.0-liter version of Ford’s EcoBoost direct-injected and turbocharged engine that should generate a V-6-like 240 horsepower and be rated at around 21/30 mpg city/highway. The line could well include the 2012 model’s 2.5-liter four and/or a non-turbo version of the 2.0-liter engine. Six speed transmissions will continue across the line. Expect all-wheel drive to again be available to help set the 2013 Fusion apart from most of the competition.

As Ford does with its global-platform Fiesta subcompact and Focus compact cars sold in the U.S., the 2013 Fusion will benefit from European-tuned suspension components. That should give it great road manners, though Ford engineers probably will keep the ride compliant to suit American tastes and American roads.

The 2013 Ford Fusion will get sleeker styling and a new interior that sports more curves than right angles. It will continue to offer myriad high-tech features and likely be available with a version of the automaker’s MyFord Touch operating system that was developed in conjunction with Sony. This replaces many conventional audio- and communications-system readouts and buttons with programmable LCD displays and touch-screens.

The 2013 Fusion could also incorporate optional Internet access via a dashboard-mounted monitor. Using either a Wi-Fi signal or a USB broadband modem, this feature would only be accessible only with the transmission in Park to avoid the distraction of surfing the Web while driving. This full-function MyFord Touch system debuted in the 2012 Ford Edge where it has thus far drawn more jeers than cheers for its complexity.

The 2013 Ford Fusion will likely also see some features trickle down from the Ford Taurus. You’ll probably see heated and cooled seats offered, as well as Ford’s Active Park Assist option, which automatically steers the vehicle into a parallel parking spot; it works better and costs far less money than a similar system Toyota/Lexus offers, though it’s hardly a must-have. A more worthy inclusion will likely be Ford’s Collision Warning with Brake Support system, which can warn the driver of stopped or slower-moving traffic ahead and will automatically prime the brakes to full force if it senses an emergency stop is necessary.

2012 Ford Fusion Competition back to top

Chevrolet Malibu: Along with the Ford Fusion, the Malibu helped bring back into domestic-car showrooms many buyers who would have otherwise bought sedans from the likes of Toyota or Honda. The 2012 Malibu is more expressively styled than the Fusion, is equally comfortable, and delivers a smooth and quiet ride with a choice of a four-cylinder engine rated 22/33/26 mpg and a V-6 rated 17/26/20. Malibu continues virtually unchanged for a short 2012 model year. A fully redesigned model launches in early calendar 2012 and will share platform and powertrains with the current Buick Regal. Like the 2013 Fusion and the current Hyundai Sonata, it’ll be another midsize car to eschew V-6 power for an all-four-cylinder lineup. That lineup won’t include a turbo model – at least initially – but will offer the 2013 Malibu Eco with GM’s eAssist system. With eAssist, a small electric motor, self-charging battery pack, and automatic start-stop function help boost power and fuel economy without the substantial added cost of a full hybrid powertrain. New features will include collision and lane-departure warning systems, a backup camera, and GM’s new MyLink connectivity system; 10 airbags will come standard. The 2012 Malibu’s base-price range is $22,755-$30,845.

Honda Accord: The Honda Accord matches up well against the Ford Fusion, if only because it likewise eschews a flashy appearance for a more-conservative look. While that seems to wear well in a stately manner in the Fusion, even after a nip and tuck styling-wise, to many the Accord just plain looks bland inside and out. It’s a different story with the coupe, which is appropriately stylish, with more graceful curves (though it’s less roomy than the sedan). Overall, the Accord excels in terms of its engineering, build quality and performance. Coming only with front-wheel-drive the car offers a choice of four-cylinder and V-6 engines, and manual and automatic transmissions. While 2012 prices and fuel economy ratings were not available in time for this review, we expect the sedan to be priced around $22,000 and get 23/34/27 mpg with the base four-cylinder model, and nearly $28,000 with a 20/30/24 mpg rating with the V-6. A full redesign is likely for the model-year 2013.

Hyundai Sonata: Note that America’s best-selling midsize car, the Toyota Camry, is fully redesigned for model-year 2012, with new styling inside and out but mostly carryover powertrains. Full details were unavailable in time for this review, so we’ll instead include among 2012 Fusion competitors the stylish, value-packed Hyundai Sonata. This offering from the rapidly growing South Korean automaker was full redesigned for model-year 2011 and carries over little changed for model-year 2012. It’s arguably the most styling midsize sedan and boasts a roomy, comfortable cabin. It’s all-four-cylinder powertrain lineup was predictive, and returns with a base 2.4-liter with 198 horsepower rated 22/35 mpg city/highway, 26 mpg combined with automatic transmission, a turbo 2.0 with 274 horsepower rated 22/34/26, and a gas-electric hybrid with 206  horsepower rated 35/40/37. Prices start at $20,455 for the 2.4-liter models, $24,540 for the turbos, and around $27,000 for the hybrid. Lots of standard features and a generous warranty add to Sonata’s value equation.